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Farmers’ Markets Provide Locally Grown Nutrition for Local Residents

A Legislative Column by Assemblyman Will Barclay
Fresh fruits and vegetables, meats, eggs, honey, wine, and cheese are all out in abundance this time of year throughout the region and will be for the next few months at local farmers’ markets.

Farmers’ markets provide an opportunity to buy local and give farmers a chance to provide home-grown produce straight to the consumer.

The markets are located throughout the region and we’re fortunate to have as much fresh and homegrown produce as we do in our area.

Beyond having affordable access to nutritional food at the markets, jobs in agriculture have what’s known as an economic multiplier that our region sees firsthand.  Economists estimate that every job created in agriculture creates an additional .8 jobs in non-agricultural jobs.

These include jobs in restaurants, transportation and manufacturing to name a few.

Our agricultural sector has shown growth and in 2013, the industry recorded $5.68 billion cash receipts, up more than $1 billion in 2010.

I was pleased to support additional funding for the Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program in the budget this year, which further supports our local farms.

The program is funded by the federal government but is managed by county Offices for the Aging.

This is the first year state funds have been used in combination with federal dollars since its inception in 2004.

This year’s budget allocated an additional $500,000 to the program, on top of the federal $1.5 million portion which is provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

This is a great program that helps connect eligible seniors with locally-grown produce.

Residents who are 60 and older may apply and receive coupons that can be redeemed for fresh produce at participating farmers’ markets.

Each coupon booklet enables residents to purchase $20 worth of fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables from local farmers’ markets.

Qualifying residents receive one booklet per household.

The Offices of the Aging distributes the coupon booklets and those who qualify have to pick them up in person.

Almost all of the coupon booklets have already been distributed in Oswego County.

To find out more information or to be added to a list for next year’s distribution, Oswego County residents may call (315) 349-3484.

Booklets are still available in Jefferson and Onondaga counties.

Jefferson County residents may call (315) 785-3191 and Onondaga County residents may call (315) 435-2362 for information.

To find a farmers market nearby, call your local town, village or city offices or visit the New York State Department of Agriculture’s website at http://www.agriculture.ny.gov/AP/CommunityFarmersMarkets.asp

Supporting our local farmers helps insure homegrown grown food and produce and supports the local economy.

If you have any questions or comments on this or any other state issue, or if you would like to be added to my mailing list or receive my newsletter, please contact my office.

My office can be reached by mail at 200 N. Second St., Fulton, NY 13069, by e-mail at [email protected] or by calling (315) 598-5185.

You can also friend me, Assemblyman Barclay, on Facebook.